Following two successive defeats in the BT Premiership, Ayr returned to winning ways after achieving victory over Gala by the slimmest of margins in an encounter of vacillating fortunes that drained the emotions of players and spectators alike.
Gala paid dearly for a catastrophic first quarter in which they at times operated an open-door policy in defence to trail 24-0, not helped by having two players in the sin-bin. The Maroons, however, fought back, scoring five tries to tie the scores at 29-29 and then kicking two penalties for a 35-29 lead.
But in a nerve-shredding final five minutes, Gala’s Ruairi Howarth missed touch from a penalty kick, giving Ayr the opportunity to run the ball. Gala were then penalised at the breakdown allowing the visitors to kick to the corner and set up driving phases that ended with prop Stuart Longwell forcing his way over for his second and his side’s sixth try, stand-off Frazier Climo delivering the winning points with the conversion.
If Ayr won the rugby match they lost the card game with yellows for Climo, Andy Dunlop and Ross Curle and red to Grant Anderson, sent off for a dangerously high tackle on Craig Robertson, Gala faring less worse with Craig Borthwick and Luke Pettie sharing time in the cooler.
Scorers: Gala – Tries: Robertson (2), Graham, Carryer, Adams. Cons: Howarth (2). Pens: Dods (2). Ayr – Tries: Taylor, Longwell (2), Dalgleish, McCallum, Curle. Cons: Climo (3).
Gala: R Howarth; C Robertson, D Burrows, A Emond, G Spiers; R Jeffrey, G Graham; L Pettie, M Carryer, C Keen, C Borthwick, C Rowlandson, O Palepoi, L Scott, K Mein. Subs: R Tod, S Cairns, G Adams, C Dods, I Ross.
Ayr: G Anderson; R Dalgleish, R Fergusson, R Curle, H McPherson; F Climo, C Taylor; S Longwell, J Malcolm, J Sebastian, G Hunter, S Sutherland, B McPherson, A Dunlop, P McCallum. Subs: L Scott, F Scott, A Russell, E McKeown.
Referee: L Linton.